My research program asks how cities can equitably support life and the practice of care through studies of housing systems and governance, urban planning and cultures of home. I am motivated by an interest in what makes cities liveable and am driven by concerns about the implications of growing urban and housing inequity, the residualisation of social welfare systems in western liberal welfare states and urban liveability in changing climates.
I live and work in Sydney’s western suburbs and Blue Mountains. These are places with lived experience of social difference, facing growing urban and economic development pressures, growing housing affordability challenges and the escalating impacts of climate change including urban heat and bushfire. Living here informs the work I do.
I am an urban cultural geographer in the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) and School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University. With Stephen Healy I co-lead the Urban Futures research program within the ICS. The Urban Futures Research Program is geared toward the production of hopeful, caring and just urban futures, drawing on interdisciplinary insights to identify the conditions that make urban areas and regions flourish. Members are committed to engaged research, working across the profit and not-for-profit, government and non-government, and international governance sectors to bring impactful change to urban areas and regions where we live and work.
My research is organised across three intersecting strands:
Cities of care – develops new insights into how urban design, markets and urban policy and governance shape the capacity to care in cities. In this work I identify and conceptualise the care infrastructures that underpin urban life and investigate how housing and welfare systems impact the ability of people to meet basic needs. An important part of this work has been the conceptualisation of housing as an infrastructure of care. Current projects include the new ARC DP ‘Shadow Care Infrastructures: sustaining life in post-welfare cities’, ARC LP ‘The Social Value of Cooperative Housing’ and our collaborative ‘Cooling the Cities’ program. The ARC DECRA ‘Older Women at Risk’ was a platform for this program of work.
Cultures of home – develops knowledge of how housing and welfare governance shape household activities and opportunities, including housing security, household care practices including budgeting and ‘making ends meet’, and homemaking. Projects include the ARC LP ‘The Social Value of Cooperative Housing’, the ARC DECRA ‘Older Women at Risk’ and the AHURI funded ‘Housing and housing-assistance pathways with companion animals’.
Companion animals and cities – a long running program of research investigates the important bond that people share with their companion animals. My work investigates how the relationship between people and their pets takes shape across a range of housing and urban contexts. This work has been advanced across a number of grants and collaborations, including most recently the AHURI funded ‘Housing and housing-assistance pathways with companion animals’.
I am Editor of the International Journal of Housing Policy and a co-founder of the Housing Journal Podcast. I serve on the Editorial Boards of Australian Geographer, Housing Studies and Geography Compass and as a Board Member at Western Sydney Regional Information and Research Service (WESTIR). Connect with me at Twitter and Mastodon.
I hold an Honours degree in Social Science, Graduate Diploma in Education and PhD in Human Geography. I served as Vice President of the Geographical Society of NSW (2012-2016) and Board Member at the Geographical Names Board of New South Wales (2012-2016).